I'm smoking your cigarettes.

The window unit air conditioner makes the sweaty air of New Orleans in June bearable, barely. Take out the moisture, dry my skin, keep me cool. Like all my fellow Americans I crave a comfort which eludes me, but the air conditioner helps. I'm smoking your cigarettes.

I'm smoking your cigarettes because it's midnight, it's one o'clock, it's two o'clock, it's the fucking wee hours of the goddamn morning, and I can't sleep because the two cups of coffee I had at Rue are still running through me. My hands shake from the unaccustomed caffeine absorption and I need something to do with them and your cigarettes are there.

I'm bathing in the shoddy light of a monitor's CRT glow, because the lights are out here, inside, since you're asleep, and even if I pulled up the window, the yellow sulfur radius of the streetlight outside wouldn't illuminate enough letters for the first page of a manuscript. There's nothing in the light, though, that I can't do in darkness--truly, there's more I can do in darkness because the sounds, the noise, the hurdy-gurdy drone of life around me doesn't penetrate, except the damn air conditioner. I can think. Or I could, except for the cigarettes in my shaking hand, my other hand clutched around a cup of mint tea with milk to calm me, and maybe, eventually, give me rest.

I'm smoking your cigarettes. I know I'll pay for them tomorrow by hacking up the tar with which I'm coating my asthmatic lungs when I run at the track, but it's not tomorrow which worries me, it's tonight.

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